Collum’s heroics make history for McNeese

Published 10:10 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

BEAUMONT, Texas – Antavion Collum hadn’t made a basket all night. 

His offensive output was just two free throws for the first 39 minutes and 56 seconds.

But with a share of the Southland Championship on the line, the McNeese State center made the biggest basket in the last 13 years for the Cowboys.

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Collum hit a three-pointer with 3.8 seconds left as McNeese outlasted Lamar 58-56 Monday night inside Neches Arena.

“I knew it was in right away,” said Collum, who finished with just five points but the biggest three of the night.

When Terry Anderson’s runner at the buzzer bounced off the backboard and rim for Lamar, the Cowboys had a portion of their first league regular-season championship in 13 years.

“It feels great,” said forward Christian Shumate. “I was getting emotional in the locker room after the game. After the last two years, to be part of this turnaround is something special. 

“I’m happy to be still here and go through it with these guys.”

Shumate was a part of the McNeese program the last two seasons when the Cowboys lost 45 times. Twenty-three of those came last year, setting the program record.

With Monday’s win the Cowboys are 25-3, 14-1 in the Southland and have a three-game lead with three to play over both Nicholls and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. It was the sixth straight win for the Cowboys and 20th in their last 21 games.

Having already claimed one of the double-byes into the conference tournament semifinals, McNeese can win the title outright Saturday when the Cowboys host Nicholls.

“We are not going to share it,” said Collum. “We want to win it ourselves.”

Thanks to Collum McNeese ended Lamar’s hopes of any title chance or double-bye. The Cardinals dropped to 15-13, 9-6 with the loss.

“That is the first step but we don’t want to share anything,” said McNeese head coach Will Wade. “We are not finished yet.”

Wade had all the confidence in Collum despite his slow night.

“(Collum) has made big shots for us all year,” said Wade. “Our guys have a lot of faith in him and he stepped up.”

It took a long time for McNeese to get going once again. After grabbing a 17-6 lead with 11:29 left in the first half, Shumate picked up his third foul and Shahada Wells got his second. 

Lamar then went on a 19-2 run and led 31-25 at the break.

“That was our worst first half of the season,” said Collum. “They were scoring on our mistakes.”

The Cowboys responded with a big run to start the second half, taking a 47-44 lead with 9:13 left behind Wells. He scored eight straight points, including back-to-back threes, to put McNeese back on top.

Wells led all scorers with 23 points as he found his shooting touch. Javohn Garcia added 13 for the Cowboys. 

Chris Pryor and Adam Hamilton had 10 each for the Cardinals.

McNeese made it tough on itself by missing three of six free throws in the final 2:49, but it was Lamar’s Errol White who missed the front-end of the one-and-one with 14.2 remaining that set up the game-winner for Collum.

On the final play, Wells drove to the hoop and looked to shoot before hitting an open Collum at the top of the key. Collum rose and fired quickly, hitting nothing but net. 

And with it, Collum had his only basket of the night and the Cowboys had made history with their championship.

The only thing left is to be a little greedy come the weekend.

“Nothing else let to it but to do it,” said Shumate.